SAN JOSE — Momentum swung repeatedly in the second half of Tuesday’s CCS Division I boys soccer semifinal, and the last of those swings favored the Mitty Monarchs as Noah Robertson scored a 77th-minute winner for a 2-1 victory over seventh-seeded Alvarez to advance to Saturday’s championship game.
Trailing 1-0, a controversial call set up Nicholas Coldiron’s game-tying penalty kick in the 50th minute, and third-seeded Mitty (15-2-4) took advantage of the emotional swings from there on out, ultimately shifting play to the third of the field in front of the Eagles’ net and mounting pressure before Robertson finally broke free for the decisive goal off a feed from Victor Diaz.
“In the second half, our attitude just changed and we fought harder,” Robertson said. “Victor found me, I slowed down, got the defender on his heels with a quick fake and just slotted it near post.”
With their backs against the wall, the visiting Eagles had three excellent chances in the final minute but couldn’t convert as a Pablo Gomez shot went over the net, Abraham Garcia’s free kick in the first minute of stoppage time went wide and a header went high a minute later.
Emmanuel Robles scored off a counterattack in the 16th minute to put the Alvarez (12-4-5) in front, and Angel Sanchez made one of his three saves on Anthony Arevalo three minutes into the second half to prevent the visitors from doubling their lead. Seven minutes later, a controversial penalty call went the way of the second-seeded Monarchs as their man went up for a header at the edge of the box against two Eagles defenders, and after a brief injury delay to attend to Alvarez’s Adrian Gonzales, the referee pointed to the penalty spot, from which the left-footed Coldiron went to the right corner to tie the game.
“The penalty obviously changed the whole game and gave them momentum, and I think they just executed well,” Alvarez head coach Said Ortiz said. “They took advantage of the opportunity.”
The Eagles nearly made that call a distant memory just a minute later, but Arevalo hit the post from close range on one of his three shots and couldn’t convert the rebound. Coldiron’s penalty kick and Arevalo’s chance seemed to completely open the game up, as the teams would trade chances the rest of the way. Robertson fanned on a chance from close range in the 55th, Coldiron’s shot off a corner in the 59th went wide and Sanchez made a save on a free kick in the 64th. Alvarez goalie Jonathan Solis would make his lone save on a Tyler Stevenson free kick in the 70th minute, and three minutes before Robertson’s winner, the Eagles were unable to convert on a corner.
“I think it was a matter of settling down, sticking to the game plan and trying to play our game rather than adjust to their formation and their style of play,” Mitty head coach Cesar Sanchez said. “Part of it was us playing the 4-5-1 and having that extra guy in the middle, but it didn’t make a difference in the first half. I think it was us settling down and focusing on us.”
Four hours after their victory, the Monarchs learned that they’ll be facing fourth-seeded Gunn (17-1-2) in the championship game after the Titans downed Salinas (16-3-1) on penalty kicks, 4-2 after regulation and overtime ended in a 2-2 draw.